[good reads] letters to a young teacher
January 26, 2014
I’ve liked getting back into this reading thing. Jonathan Kozol’s Letters to a Young Teacher has also been on my list of books to read for awhile now. I love this book because I wish I were Francesca and I had a Jonathan Kozol who wrote letters like these to me during my first year of teaching.
This book is actually a series of letters that the author wrote to a young first-year teacher teaching in inner-city Boston. They describe his visits to her classroom during this first year; they discuss her insecurities as a new teacher in a daunting situation; and they reveal many of the controversial issues that teachers deal with on a regular basis. Thankfully (or perhaps not thankfully) these issues are not just applicable in inner-city Boston, but here in Phoenix as well. Reading Kozol’s letters to Francesca I thought about how in my school district we often discuss the value of standardized testing and charter schools, too. Sometimes my students as me what exactly they’re eating and I’m not always so certain about my answer when I look down at the mystery meat sitting there on their foam tray. And the distrust that many of the students they mentioned in the book have for the teachers at their school is an strong echo of what I see at my school as well. It’s scary to think how similar many schools must be describe being located across the country from one another and how we deal with similar issues. Francesca dealt with them. I deal with them. Even Kozol admits to dealing with the same issues as he accounts stories from when he was teaching in the classroom long ago.
This book is a must read for new and veteran teachers alike. There’s a certain camaraderie you feel with the Francesca. At times, I felt as though Kozol must have been writing to me. But it’s not all bad. In fact, it’s the light-hearted stories about kids who say the darnedest things or finally after an entire year decide to trust you that makes this book so relateable … I mean isn’t it moments like those that make battling through all the rest of the stuff worth it?